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  • Writer's pictureRitu Lamba

4 ways to develop reading skills

Reading is the first essential literacy skill. How can parents, teachers and other caregivers ensure that children fall in love with reading not just stories but all types of texts – fiction and non-fiction? Here are 4 points to keep in mind!

1. Authentic Texts

It is important for children to read and listen to authentic texts every day. An authentic text is one that is not written with a language-learning objective in mind. The text flows naturally; the language and content are rich; grammatical structures are not strictly followed; dialogue between characters read like real-life conversations. Think Roald Dahl, think PG Wodehouse, think Harry Potter. Unputdownable, because of their richness and authenticity.

Children's storybooks, comic strips, newspaper articles, and instruction manuals are just some examples of authentic texts. Language textbooks, on the other hand, may or may not include authentic texts, so it is important to ensure that school textbook stories are not the only thing students are reading!

2. Interesting Story Arcs

Good texts, whether fiction or non-fiction, whether written for children or adults, follow a narrative arc. Put simply, this means that a good text will have a sequence of events that will draw the reader in, build the drama or tension, and then deliver a conclusion that satisfies the curiosities and expectations of the reader. It is the story arc that differentiates interesting, unputdownable texts from the others. A simple way to identify if a text has a good story arc is to think about your own reactions and emotions while reading the story and while taking a break from the story. If you don't notice the passing of time, if you crave to go back to the story while doing other chores, it most likely has a great story arc. The same principle holds true for children's stories too!

3. Appeals to Children and Adults

CS Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, writes, “I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last. A waltz which you can like only when you are waltzing is a bad waltz.”

In short, a good story is a good story, regardless of age. If, as an adult, you don't enjoy reading a story, your child or student may not enjoy it either! The authenticity of the text, the story arc, and the development of the character have a big role to play in making children's stories irresistible to adults as well.

4. Helps Children Think in New Ways

A story may not have an obvious moral. In fact, stories written purely to convey a moral may not be authentic or fun to read at all. However, through its events and characters, a well-written story with relatable characters will push children to think of themselves, of everyday situations, and of the world at large in new ways. This could be as simple as reading about how a character handles a difficult conversation with a friend and then reflecting on a similar situation the child was in, or as complex as wondering what the child herself would have done if she were faced with the impossible choices that the character finds herself facing. A text that is able to draw the reader in enough to evoke these thoughts is a story worth reading!

unboxED offers the child and parent resources to build a growth mindset at home while exploring Literacy and STEM concepts through conversations and creation, and letting kids be kids. These products have been built keeping in mind the academic and cognitive skills needed at various stages of the child’s development.

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